I Stopped Playing the Victim. You Can Too.
No one should feel powerless. How can anyone maximize their potential and their contribution to the world when they don’t know how to use their own power? And yet, we give our power away everyday as if there is some type of reward for playing the victim. You see, no one can take your power – only you can give it away. When you do, the resulting self-pity and desperate behavior basically repel the things you really want.
So many of us are unaware of how much we sabotage ourselves in this way. Willfully, we play the role of the powerless victim as a defense mechanism. Playing this role seems easier because we don’t have to admit our weaknesses or take responsibility for ourselves. And therein lies the problem. There’s no personal freedom in playing the victim.
I played the long-suffering victim for way too long before I realized that many of my self-esteem issues came from doing just that. I didn’t stand up for myself, so I didn’t respect myself and I didn’t expect others to respect me. While I recognized this self-defeating quality in myself, I blamed it on my flawed nature and I didn’t think I could change.
But I did. And if this sounds like you, then you can do it, too.
Here are some basic, everybody-goes-through-this-stuff concepts to help you recognize ways in which you can take your power back:
*Don’t take it personal. Stop being so sensitive. So, you didn’t like that person’s tone of voice or you think what they said is unfair. So what? That’s their reality, not yours. Allow people to express their truth without it impacting yours. Maybe you didn’t get invited to something. If you think there’s a misunderstanding, address it without bitterness. Otherwise, let it go. You can’t control what other people think, say or do.
*Trust people to be who they are. If you know someone to be a gossip, then don’t be surprised when they gossip. I’ve known people to have undesirable qualities, and yet I’ve continued to deal with them thinking that their behavior would never be directed at me. Use your observations to empower yourself. If you choose to stick around then realize that you may ultimately be negatively impacted. If and when that day comes, remember that you chose to play with the fire.
*Get to know yourself intimately. When people criticize or attack you, it hurts deeply when you aren’t certain of who you are. Sometimes we catch it right in the heart and find ourselves defenseless because someone has hit upon something we are already insecure about. Am I really a bad person? A poor writer? lazy? selfish? The only defense for this is self-awareness. Know your strengths and weaknesses and be open to discovering new ones.
* Exploit your weaknesses. Getting comfortable with my weaknesses has put me in touch with a deeper level of self-expression and creativity. We are taught that weaknesses are unpleasant and unpopular, but I disagree. There’s nothing more attractive than candor. One day, I started telling people about my bouts with depression and anxiety. I started talking about my self-doubt. Instead of feeling ashamed and letting it control me, I exploited it. I put it to work. Now, no one can use it against me because I’m not trying to hide it.
*Always start back at one. Be accountable. Remember that you are happening to the world and it is not happening to you. Don’t look at life as a blame game, see it as a huge classroom. Confidently admit when you are wrong or when you don’t know something. Remember that when you blame others, you only block your own growth. Know where you’ve come from, where you are and where you would like to go and find meaning in everything.
Despite my declaration that my days of playing the victim are over, I still feel ignored, misunderstood and mistreated sometimes. Who doesn’t? The difference is that now I don’t dwell on these feelings for long. I find the lesson and keep it moving.